Two More El Faro Families Accept Settlement

Image courtesy NTSB

By MarEx 2016-09-20 20:27:49

Two more families of the crewmembers of the lost con/ro El Faro have accepted a settlement package from the vessel's owner and operator, Tote Services and Tote Maritime Puerto Rico. 

The families of Theodore Quammie and Steven Shultz will receive $500,000 each for pain and suffering plus an "agreed upon amount" for their economic losses, local media reports

21 other families have already accepted the same settlement offer, leaving only ten with a pending lawsuit. The last set of settlements was announced in May.

A federal trial judge has set the first court date for the remaining plaintiffs for May 2018. That case will determine whether or not Tote's liability is limited to $15 million under admiralty law or whether the families may seek additional damages.

If successful in that suit, they will have to pursue additional, separate civil claims. 

The investigation into the loss of the El Faro continues. The National Transportation Safety Bureau is examining the contents of her Voyage Data Recorder, which was recovered intact on August 8. The device contains navigational telemetry and bridge audio from the final 26 hours of the El Faro’s voyage, and the NTSB has convened a panel to prepare an official transcript of the recording. After that review is complete, the agency plans to hold a third set of public hearings into the tragic sinking; it will then consider all available evidence before reporting its findings. 

“[The recorder is] just one component of a very complex investigation. There is still a great deal of work to be done in order to understand how the many factors converged that led to the sinking and the tragic loss of 33 lives,” said NTSB chairman Christopher A. Hart in August.

Testimony at a hearing in May revealed that the ship's captain may have had outdated weather data and that the El Faro’s boilers were scheduled for maintenance